The recent Phillip Island MotoGP, with crowds of over 50,000 and watched by many thousands more on television, was a major achievement for Network TEN as it was the first time a tapeless workflow was used to broadcast a live Australian sporting event.
Videocraft Managing Director James Taylor explained, “Videocraft have been helping Network TEN with their motorsport broadcasts for several years. Before the last Phillip Island Moto GP we sat down with Michael Heaton and his team at TEN to plan for the upcoming event and that’s when they told us that this year they wanted to introduce a tapeless workflow.”
TEN Sport Senior Producer Michael Heaton added, “This was going to be a complex job and it took a good deal of planning and consultation with Videocraft to get the system and workflow right. The key was using XD Cam cameras for acquisition together with an Avid Unity system integrated with Avid’s Interplay Media Asset Management and Sony PDW1500 XD Cam decks for high-speed upload ingest into Avid Media Composers. Avid’s Interplay Assist was also a critical tool for our producers and media loggers allowing them to review any material on the Unity irrespective of its source and faster than real time which meant we didn’t have to stop recording in order to start editing.”
The Avid Interplay Assist desktop video tool is an efficient way to review and log video, select shots, and add locators and comments using ordinary desktops and laptops on a network. With the media loggers on the Moto GP having to review such a large body of material and then organise clips for editors and producers, using Interplay Assist helped the whole process to be faster and more efficient.
Heaton added, “Using Interplay Assist our producers were able to create a rough ‘cut’ before handing it over to the editors which saved a significant amount of time. Previously this process was a manual one involving handwritten timecodes on paper. This year the producers were able to choose actual shots to show the editors which was very exciting not to mention incredibly efficient!.”
James Taylor added, “We are very proud to have been involved in helping Network TEN come up with this workflow as we believe this is truly the way of the future.”
Avid Interplay Assist also allowed Videocraft to integrate the EVS servers, used for slow motion replays and playout to air.
“This was another real bonus.” Said Heaton. “With this new workflow there was no need to complete the edit and layout to tape. We could now finish the edit, send it to the EVS playout server and it was ready to go, all faster than real time and it worked perfectly – thanks to the Avid Interplay Assist.”
The tapeless workflow pioneered by Network TEN and Videocraft is a significant development in Australia according to James Taylor, particularly in live sports. He added, “This tapeless workflow is a very big deal. It allows easy access to information, the ability to rename and organise clips and is a massive time saver. All huge advantages in live sporting events. In order to get everyone on the same page, before the Moto GP we did a full day’s training with TEN’s producers to make sure they were 100% comfortable with the system. After all, as this was a first, we would be taking away the tape machines they were used to and replacing them with computer screens. Videocraft also provided on-site audio sweetening via Pro Tools and technical support crew for the entire event.”
Commenting on the success and overall efficiencies of the broadcast Michael Heaton said, “In essence Videocraft built a medium sized, fully functioning post house in 24 hours in the middle of nowhere! In addition to that they provided full technical video monitoring in and out using an HD capable Codan router system. Another improvement on the previous year was that we didn’t use a traditional SDI based network, instead only using it to check systems and as a back up. We archived everything to Digibeta Cam tape and aside from that everything else was tapeless. Although large in size, this Moto GP was one of the easiest jobs we have ever done and we couldn’t have done it without the help of Videocraft.”